These trusty plants make your garden look wonderful in winter
Although their presence is often overshadowed by the floral treats of summer, evergreens are important players in the appearance of the garden, providing welcome structure and a focal point for the more challenging times of year, particularly mid winter. While hollies are seasonal favourites, there are other evergreen shrubs that can really add interest with the shape and colour of their foliage.
One of the most remarkable is the Chusan palm, Trachycarpus fortunei, which can withstand strong winds, frost and snow.
Once established, it will continue to make steady growth until it becomes an eye catching feature. Site it carefully and give it enough space. Fatsia japonica is another big leaved, hardy shrub that’s ideal for creating a sub tropical effect and a useful partner for the Chusan palm, producing the biggest leaves in a sheltered position in semi-shade.
Many shrubs that revel in acid conditions are evergreen, particularly those in the heather family, Ericaceae, such as erica, calluna, rhododendron and leucothoe, which all make excellent partners for dwarf conifers and pines. Leucothoe ‘Scarletta’ is particularly effective as its foliage turns beetroot-red in winter and is a good companion plant for pots and containers in association with winter pansies and foliage plants, such as heuchera. Many evergreens, such as elaeagnus and aucuba, can be trained and clipped as hedges, useful for dry soils or shade. In milder and coastal areas, try griselinia from New Zealand, which tolerates salt-laden winds and can be grown as a freestanding shrub, or used as a hedge.